Fun trip to Bangalore (March ’17 edition)

Don’t let “edition” in the title mislead you into believing I’ve had a lot of fun trip to Bangalore before. But I’m hoping I will going forward.

Nishith and I went on an official trip to attend Microsoft’s March 16-17 Tech Summit event. I have nothing much to say about the event other than it was mostly Microsoft’s product advertisement carnival, and that the only high point was the session on cross-platform mobile app development using Xamarin. Having created both native (Android and iOS) and hybrid (Ionic and Sencha Touch) mobile apps, I was instantly sold on the idea of using C# to create 100% native apps. IMHO, hybrid apps suck! They suck much less with Ionic 2, but I have found the overall UX to be still behind what native apps offer. I have made a pledge to develop my next mobile app POC using Xamarin.

Since there is not much else to talk about the summit, I’ll share a few memories of my trip.

Before leaving, we celebrated Shivam’s birthday with a cake and team lunch.
We had dinner at a very happening place Koramangala Social on 7th Street in Koramangala. These jalapeño cheese croquettes were so delicious we ordered them twice.
On day 2, our lunch was Andhra meal. We had this amazing Andhra thali at Bheema’s on Church Street. It was my first Andhra food experience.
On our return flight, we hung out at the Priority Pass lounge in Bangalore airport. It was my first lounge experience. Freebies are always good 🙂

P.S.: I have nothing against Ionic/Angular. I have always absolutely loved the development experience that they offer, it’s just the end result that is most of the times not to my liking. I’d blame the WebView more than the SDK!

Talking to a Bot: Awesome times with AI and NLU

Credit: inago.com/technology

Everyone is talking about Artificial Intelligence (AI). Recent times have seen a big surge in AI research and huge investments in that direction by corporates and academia. Major IT and consulting players have even declared AI as an emerging trend, and have started offering AI-based services to their clients.

Working at Accenture Labs, it’s a privilege to play with the latest and the greatest trends. All cutting edge work at Accenture begins at Labs. My team was tasked with creating a Skype for Business bot: a virtual agent – just like a Facebook chat bot – to intelligently understand and respond to user’s queries, in a way a human does. As some people would guess, this required some sort of natural language processing (NLP) capabilities to be added to the bot.

With the recent explosion of cognitive offerings from the “biggies”, we didn’t have to start from scratch in order to implement such a profound functionality. We relied on Microsoft’s LUIS for our bot’s language understanding capability. Although working with LUIS was fun, the curious keeda (bug) in me had me looking for alternatives. I soon found out that the concept of intents and entities was common across NLU frameworks. Google’s API.ai and Facebook’s Wit.ai both work on similar models, except they have a slight edge over LUIS in their ability to keep track of context.

It’s been a great learning experience so far, and I intend to delve deeper into NLU. And, maybe, explore other AI-based cognitive technologies, such as speech recognition and computer vision (I have dabbled in both in the past).

C’est génial!

P.S.: On this topic, check out Mark Zuckerberg’s attempt at building Jarvis, his home automation AI.

Thought of the day

Saw this today as “Quote of the day” on my office’s notice board.

The best way to succeed in life is to act on the advice we give to others.
– Anonymous

That’s 100% right, Mr. Anonymous. Very well said.

So, that was about the quote.

  • I recently got an Internet connection at my place, in Gurgaon; it’s a BSNL EV-DO based connection. Quite happy with it for now.
  • Got rid of 1185 spam comments today. Had to go through each one of them to spot out genuine ones stuck there.
  • Today, finally, Microsoft certifications lost my trust. On doing MCTS and MCP, all by myself, I felt very proud. But on looking around in the office, I found out that anybody can clear these certifications given they have proper dumps for that. Now that really hurt me.

.NET at Accenture

Since I landed in Bangalore, my schedule has been extremely busy. Yeah, I had heard in the past that the training period in an IT company, especially Accenture, is very tough, I am experiencing it only now. I have yet to take out some time to go out and explore that grand city that is Bangalore. Most of my time everyday is spent preparing for in-training tests. But anyway, the first phase of my training ends today, the last test of first phase being on 28th Sept.

A ray of hope in my frustrating daily schedule has to be me getting .NET stream, that is, I would be doing my second (and final) phase of training on Microsoft .NET technologies, and eventually be getting projects based on it. I am curious to begin my stream training, more because my stream is more web-development oriented (yippie!). By the way, it would be ASP.NET + C#.

That’s all for now. I’ll try to keep my blog as updated as possible.

UPDATE:
I should have mentioned this earlier here — I switched to Java competency about a year ago. So I work on both Java and .NET assignments in my project now.